Recovery: How Coffee Can Reduce The Risk of Liver Cirrhosis

coffeeA few weeks back, a new study published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics linked drinking two cups of coffee per day to a reduced risk of alcohol-related liver cirrhosis (“ALC”) by up to 43 percent.    For people in the Spiritual Adrenaline community, this study is critical as it focused solely on alcoholic liver cirrhosis.   When I heard about the study, I had to read it right away.  I am very excited to share the findings with all of you.

ALC means that healthy liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue in people who drink heavily or have a history of drinking heavily.   The liver is a vital organ that is primarily responsible for detoxing our body.  ALC compromises the liver’s ability to perform this vital function, and is the most serious of numerous diseases relating to the liver that occurs in long-term alcoholics.   The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that 10-15% of recovering alcoholics have ALC.  Others estimate the number to be higher and up to 30%.  Those studies and researchers point out that in many cases, the disease is only discovered after death at autopsy.  Scary news, but alcoholism is a scary disease, and we cannot sugar coat the consequences of long-term drinking.

This study stands out from others due to its unprecedented scope.   Researchers gathered the results of nine previous studies that linked coffee to a reduction in ALC and analyzed those results.   The total number of participants in these studies was 43,000.  The results showed that one-cup of coffee per day reduced risk of ALC by 22 percent, two cups by 43 percent and three cups by 57 percent.  But why?

The authors of the study concluded:

“Coffee comprises over a thousand compounds, many of which are biologically active and may affect human health.  These include caffeine, chlorogenic acid,  melanoids and pentacyclic diterpenes kahweol and cafestol.   The biological effects of coffee include stimulation of the central nervous system, primarily by caffeine, the attenuation of oxidative stress and inflammation, and anti-carcinogenesis.  In the context of [alcohol-related] liver disease, coffee appears to confer a number of protective effects.”

I cannot pronounce the names of most of those substances and some I had never heard of before.  I did some research so you don’t have to.

It’s the Anti-Oxidants

The authors of the study did not state that any of their conclusions were definitive, though they believe that the observed benefits were a direct result of the anti-oxidants in coffee.   Most of the substances identified in the quote above are anti-oxidants.   Anti-oxidants are nature’s medicine, and are powerful anti-inflammatory agents.

The Lighter the Roast, the More Anti-Oxidants

So here is a tip if you are interested in maximizing the anti-oxidants in the coffee you drink:  the lighter the roast the greater the amount of anti-oxidants.  During the roasting process, the anti-oxidants are destroyed by exposure to heat.  The darker the roast, the longer the bean was roasted.   So if you are looking to maximize the benefits of your cup of coffee, go with a medium or light roast at least once a day.   Dr. Oz recently covered this topic in depth and I encourage you to visit his website for more information or to confirm the contents of this post.

 Avoid Hyper-Caffeinated Coffee

In a past video blog, I discussed how coffee content is jacked up in certain coffees available at major retailers such as Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks.  I encourage you to watch that video, which can be found at the bottom of our Recovery Nutrition page.  It is advisable to try and avoid those hyper caffeinated beverages, as the excessive amounts of caffeine will undercut the benefits of drinking the real thing.  One of the reasons that drinking too much coffee is problematic is that it puts large amounts of stress on your heart and other organs causing inflammation, rather than ameliorating it.

 Three Cups a Day, Not Thirty

The study found the greatest benefit to participants who drank three cups a day, not thirty.  I can tell you that as an alcoholic, if someone said that taking 50 grams of niacin was a good thing, I would take 500 grams.  My logic being – the more the better.  Unfortunately, my old way of thinking was not correct and oftentimes unhealthy. Something good for us in moderation can become dangerous in excess.   So let’s remember that moderate coffee drinking (up to three cups a day) early in the day to avoid trouble sleeping, with at least one or two cups being a lighter roast, seems to have substantial health benefits.

 

Share your thoughts on this and other posts with me at tom@spiritualadrenaline.me.

 

 

 

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